Excerpt from Nail on the Head By Jeffrey Davis


This short story by Jeffrey Davis appears in the Fall 2010 issue of Tiferet. Click here to purchase the full issue for Kindle.

The last nail was still halfway stuck in the walnut board. It had had only one-and-a-half strikes, and the left side of the head was bent. Dried blood ran down the nail like Virginia creeper that wraps the willow where your grandmother is buried.

     Your grandmother used to have a painting of Jesus on the cross hanging above the oak dresser I made her. It was a fairly detailed painting. Thorns were wrapped around his head and trickles of blood ran down the sides of his face. And blood from spikes trickled down his wrists and ankles, too. I never liked it. I had given her the dresser for her sixtieth birthday present. It had a special drawer within a drawer for the few rings and necklaces and bracelets she kept because she said she always liked secret compartments.

     A few months after her birthday I walked into the bedroom and nearly yelled in fear. “What the hell is that?” I’m afraid I probably said, flinching at the painting.

     “It’s Jesus, Walter,” she said. “I bought it from Anne Minton who’s selling what she can to make ends meet since Jerry’s death and since their boy has run off to the forests of Maine.”

     “Well, Jesus, did you have to hang it in our bedroom and right there?”

     She didn’t so much as twitch. “I think it’s pretty, and it’s a reminder of what He did for us. And you know, He was a good carpenter, too,” she said, smirking. Your grandmother always threw in that good carpenter line any time we’d talk religion.

     “Yes, he was a very fine carpenter,” I said, “but what did Jerry Minton ever do for us?”

     “You know who I mean, Walter Osterhoudt.”

     I let her keep the painting. And then one day, about a year before she died, it just disappeared and left a vacant white spot above her dresser. A month later she put up a mirror in its place. I never asked.

Jeffrey Davis Tracking WonderJEFFREY DAVIS researches, interviews, and works with creative innovators, scientists, and social psychologists to discover how creatives flourish in times of challenge and change. He mentors authors, business artists, and thought leaders to excel in their field and make a difference with their ideas and art. Author of the groundbreaking book The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices As Muse for Authentic Writing (Penguin 2004; Monkfish Publishing, updated & revised ed., 2008), he writes online columns for Psychology Today and The Creativity Post. His essays, articles, short stories, and poems appear in publications around the world. He recently served as Fiction Editor for Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature.
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